Fallback Icon


Having an Identity Crisis? It Might Be Time to Rebrand

By: Robert Wallace

“We don’t really do that anymore. We actually do this.” It’s a phrase all too common amongst businesses – and it can happen at any stage. While it’s empowering to refine and hone the vision it can be a daunting, almost paralyzing feeling to know the market isn't exactly clear on what you do, and for whom.

Just like humans, businesses grow – in intellect, in size, and in skill. And like humans, as they grow up, businesses often discover new areas of strength – strengths they are passionate about and that can become true differentiators. They come to understand their voice and place in the world. As such, the messaging and core values that previously defined them no longer fit.

This very real scenario is one indication your business may be due for a rebrand. Another is general confusion in the marketplace. If your peers can’t succinctly describe what it is you do – heck if you or your employees can’t – it’s time to consider for a rebrand.

What it means to have a solid brand foundation

You may have a beautiful logo, consistency in your use of company colors, top-notch business cards, and matching team shirts, but no amount of frill is going to really, truly communicate what it is your company excels in.

You are more than your appearance. While the visuals are important, don’t bother with things like brand colors or what marketing vehicles you’re going to use until you know, without question, who you are as a company.

Start with the Position

Your brand’s position essentially defines who you are. It’s akin to taking a stand, and saying, “This is who we are and why you should love us.” Imagine the clarity and focus that comes with something as surefooted and powerful as that.

When in an identity crisis, however, we suggest focusing on your position in the market first. It might be painful, but this is where you have to get real with yourself and others in the organization.

Do people (internal and external) actually have any idea who you are? Can they describe what you do? Is that description accurate? Is it what you want to be known for?

How REI wins through Positioning

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Greg Head, the former CMO of Infustionsoft, and we talked about this exact predicament. Greg also wrote a post on why most Big Box retailers are struggling to compete right now - and it relates directly to how they are positioned in the market.

In that conversation with Greg, we looked a little deeper at one of his favorite example companies, REI. To paraphrase:

“One example of a brand with strong positioning is REI, the popular outdoor sporting goods and equipment store. They’ve remained dedicated to creating high-value outdoor experiences. As such, every product they carry, service they offer, and action they take underscores that position. They’ve launched schools for camp training, allow customers to try gear and equipment before purchasing, and last year decided to #optoutside on Black Friday to inspire others to get outdoors. That is mighty positioning.”

REI’s positioning not only provides the company with a clear messaging platform, but an overall strategy that provides meaning to their brand.

Uber - An example of how not to do a Rebrand

Take Uber’s recent, and quite controversial, rebrand for example. The idea behind the visual redesign of the app logo, which is in effect the gateway to the company, was “bits and atoms.” The problem was, it didn’t resonate with its customers. There was nothing to bond to emotionally. Everything recognizable and unique about the brand that users had come to love was stripped out and made into an ethereal image no one could relate to.

Uber could have had a more successful rebrand had they more effectively communicated the reason behind it. Many believe it was part of the company’s effort to reposition itself beyond being a people mover, as they were starting to explore food and package delivery.

Taking this into account, the rebrand makes more sense, but Uber still hasn’t communicated the new position effectively.

Simplify to reduce Confusion

A brand should be able to be communicated in 10 seconds (we no longer have the luxury of the 30-second elevator pitch). If there’s any confusion about your brand or what it is you do, simplicity will be the antidote. Choose clarity over cleverness.

Too often brands venture down the path of confusion when they hold steadfast to the notion that they have to be clever to stand out. While beautiful prose is important, and can help build an emotional connection with customers, it becomes counterproductive when it clouds what you do. If this is your reality, you need to reconsider the messages.

Learn more about how brands drive revenue:

Written by Robert Wallace

    Want more?

    Get extra insight with our newsletter.

    In the media

    We’ve shared our secrets with…

    Inc Entrepreneaur Press & Media